Get your Show My Face and 6WS buttons HERE!

If you aren't receiving email replies to your comments, please see this post.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Six Word Saturday

Visiting my heart in San Francisco



Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. I love seeing what everyone does with their entries.

Each week (probably on Sunday or Monday), I use random.org to select a bunch of entries to visit.  Or I visit everyone. Or even numbered entries. Or odd numbered entries. Or multiples of three. Depends on what's going on that week.  In addition, please visit the person ahead of you on the list (or visit everyone if you like!). That way everyone receives at least one visit!

If you play along in your blog, please add a link to the Mr. Linky. I appreciate a link back (shiny code below if you like!). Otherwise, you're welcome to leave your six words in this post as a comment.

Please be sure to link either to your main page or (preferably) directly to the 6WS post. Links to blogs that do not contain a 6WS entry will be removed (sorry, just the button in the sidebar doesn't count as participating).



Friday, July 29, 2011

Gone Baby Gone

Just a quick note - I'm in San Francisco. Joe's running his half-marathon on Sunday and we came out a few days early to enjoy the cooler weather.

Six Word Saturday will happen tomorrow as usual. Email responses and visits will be late (as usual?).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Swear Jar

I've decided it's time to clean up my act regarding the curse words. Finally, you're thinking, a post NOT about writing!

WRONG!!!

If I'm going to take this writing thing seriously, I need to broaden my vocabulary. This first occurred to me while watching a recent episode of Food Network Star. Tyler Florence took one of the contestants aside and advised her very seriously that she needed to "develop a rolodex of good adjectives to describe things". Oh, come on, tell me you see the funny in that? Also, most people store their words somewhere other than a rolodex. Even more people no longer use a rolodex for anything. The point was driven home when watching some Gordon Ramsay show with a lot of bleeping. I don't want to risk the bleeping once I'm famous and on television.

I'm sharing this for two reasons:
  1. I need your suggestions for colorful words I can use instead. And I don't mean words like "fudge" and "crumb" - not swear-substitutions but more powerful words altogether.
  2. I'm keeping track of my swears and plan to donate $1 for each word I use that I've defined as off-limits. For the record, these words start with s and f. I want your suggestions for where I should donate that money to at the end of some time period I've yet to determine. No cause to great or too small.
I started my tip jar yesterday around noon and so far I'll be donating $3 to some very lucky charity. *&%#$!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Six Word Saturday

melting under the relentless summer sun



Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. I love seeing what everyone does with their entries.

Each week (probably on Sunday or Monday), I use random.org to select a bunch of entries to visit.  Or I visit everyone. Or even numbered entries. Or odd numbered entries. Or multiples of three. Depends on what's going on that week.  In addition, please visit the person ahead of you on the list (or visit everyone if you like!). That way everyone receives at least one visit!

If you play along in your blog, please add a link to the Mr. Linky. I appreciate a link back (shiny code below if you like!). Otherwise, you're welcome to leave your six words in this post as a comment.

Please be sure to link either to your main page or (preferably) directly to the 6WS post. Links to blogs that do not contain a 6WS entry will be removed (sorry, just the button in the sidebar doesn't count as participating).



Thursday, July 21, 2011

Being Funny is No Joke

Yep, I'm writing about writing. Again. Because that's my thing right now.

This humor writing class is tricky. I love that the instructor is giving very specific and thorough feedback, but we have a bit of a disagreement in stylistic tastes. He's into stand-up and I'm into dramadies. He wants the funny to be slathered on generously and I'm more of a sprinkler of the funny.

And that's okay, because the point of this class is to learn how to bring out the humor. This means it's his job to point out every possible place we could potentially milk a story for more humor. It's like going to the batting cages, I suppose. You don't really spend all of your time playing baseball just batting (do you? I honestly know nothing about baseball), just like you don't spend all of your time writing focused on humor. Still, it's good to immerse yourself in the practice so you can call up the skill when you need it.

By contrast, I expect to submit the same work to my memoir writing class and have them find it hilarious but not quite as contemplative or personal as desired.

All this to say that I'm receiving positive feedback, both from the instructor on my assignments and from my classmates on my booth submission. But I'm feeling like I'm not funny enough. Or not as funny as I thought I might be.

On today's agenda: rewrite my post on celery migraines in a way that shows instead of tells about one of the stupidest moments I've experienced. Not that there's any shortage of those to choose from!

Update: There's a Groupon available today for $129 for a 6-wk Gotham course. Usually, these classes are $320 for six weeks. I'm assuming this doesn't include the $25 registration fee. Still, it's an amazing deal. It appears it can only be used on Nonfiction 101 and Creative Writing 101 - I've taken both and they're both really good, especially the Nonfiction course. I'm trying to see if I can use the Groupon for Business Writing since I've taken the other two but no answer so far.

This is not a sponsored post. Unless you count my usual sponsor, Joe.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Refresh - Refresh - Refresh

Overnight, my first submission to the writing booth went live. The booth is where class participants post their work for classmates to critique.

When I've taken these writing classes in the past, I've always submitted an older piece that I've been working on for awhile. It's usually already heavily revised and edited with feedback from several friends. This time, I'm taking a different approach, submitting pieces that are part of my larger work-in-progress.

The submission that went live last night is the introduction to my book, which I wrote just this past Sunday. I submitted it yesterday, meaning it was only 24-hours old when I released it into the wild. Sure, I made some revisions in that amount of time. But that's quite "new" to be sending off into the world.

Since I woke up this morning, about ninety minutes ago, I've refreshed my booth page at least half a dozen times, waiting for the first comment. I'm feeling a ridiculous amount of anxiety over it and hoping it's well-received. I'm hoping the comments provide some great feedback regarding changes I can make to strengthen the piece. I'm also crossing my fingers that I don't regret submitting something this fresh and dear.

Time to go refresh the page some more.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I Should Brush My Teeth More Often

When do you have your best ideas? Mine are undoubtedly when I brush my teeth. I've had more ideas for blog posts, stories, photos, decorations, and general mayhem when brushing my teeth than at any other time.

This morning while brushing my teeth, I was overcome with sudden inspiration for an entire approach to the book I've decided to write. Actually, it's slightly different than the book I was going to write originally so I'll save that for my second release. As soon as I finished flossing, I went downstairs and wrote the entire introduction, the start of the first chapter, and an outline for the rest of the book.

And with that, I'm off to brush my teeth again so I can start on chapter two!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Six Word Saturday

back to my regularly scheduled program



Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. I love seeing what everyone does with their entries.

Each week (probably on Sunday or Monday), I use random.org to select a bunch of entries to visit.  Or I visit everyone. Or even numbered entries. Or odd numbered entries. Or multiples of three. Depends on what's going on that week.  In addition, please visit the person ahead of you on the list (or visit everyone if you like!). That way everyone receives at least one visit!

If you play along in your blog, please add a link to the Mr. Linky. I appreciate a link back (shiny code below if you like!). Otherwise, you're welcome to leave your six words in this post as a comment.

Please be sure to link either to your main page or (preferably) directly to the 6WS post. Links to blogs that do not contain a 6WS entry will be removed (sorry, just the button in the sidebar doesn't count as participating).



Monday, July 11, 2011

You Suck At Tipping

Actually, I don't know if you suck at tipping or not. I've heard that it's a good idea to use potentially inflammatory or controversial post titles to get the reader's attention (because who doesn't want to go read a post about why they suck?) and so here we are.

Joe's a good tipper. 20% for good service. 15% for okay service where we might have to ask for a refill or have a small issue. Less than that if the server totally sucks, at which point we let the server know and usually speak with a manager. Politely. But we're talking BAD service.

Know who does suck at tipping? My brother. And Joe's brother. Embarrassing, honestly.

We ate lunch with my brother and his wife a couple of weeks ago at the Hard Rock Cafe in Baltimore. The waitress was lovely - lots of personality, very on her game. She made great suggestions, didn't leave us wanting, never made us ask twice, but she also wasn't in our face and driving us nuts.

We asked for separate checks, paid our bills, and went on our merry way. My brother gave us his check afterwards because we have some kind of HRC rewards card and we thought we could add their amount to our account. It was at this point that I noticed they left a tip of $4.18 on a check of $73.96, making their total $78.14. Huh?

I was absolutely mortified. I considered trying to track down the poor girl somehow even though we were safely home at our undisclosed location by that time. I felt so awful.

Last week, we went to dinner with BIL, his wife, and their two kids. Again, separate checks. Because I was on alert after lunch with my brother (plus my BIL is kinda known for his cheapness), I did take a look at his check when it arrived. Just over $60. He tipped $7. What for? I'll admit, the server was not amazing. She was okay but she forgot the bacon on the top of the kids' cheese fries. She didn't ask if we wanted an additional appetizer. She wasn't good with drink refills. I would've tipped her around 15%.

I gave Joe a nice nudge and he was able to adjust our tip upwards to compensate for the shortfall.

I don't understand not tipping the waitstaff properly. Sure, I wish they weren't paid so little. I wish their pay started at a minimum wage, just like everyone else, and that a tip was a reward, not an expectation. But that's not how things work, which means we need to factor in a tip if we're going out to eat.

What about you? Do you suck at tipping? Are you a big tipper? What do you do when you're out with someone else and you feel they've severely under-tipped?

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Six Word Saturday

a brief break between family visits



Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. I love seeing what everyone does with their entries.

Each week (probably on Sunday or Monday), I use random.org to select a bunch of entries to visit.  Or I visit everyone. Or even numbered entries. Or odd numbered entries. Or multiples of three. Depends on what's going on that week.  In addition, please visit the person ahead of you on the list (or visit everyone if you like!). That way everyone receives at least one visit!

If you play along in your blog, please add a link to the Mr. Linky. I appreciate a link back (shiny code below if you like!). Otherwise, you're welcome to leave your six words in this post as a comment.

Please be sure to link either to your main page or (preferably) directly to the 6WS post. Links to blogs that do not contain a 6WS entry will be removed (sorry, just the button in the sidebar doesn't count as participating).



Friday, July 08, 2011

The Siege is Over

Remember the invading house guests post on Wednesday?

They were here for less than fifteen hours, leaving behind them three loads of dirtied towels and bedding (for four people and the kids didn't even shower - and that doesn't include the load of their laundry that I somehow ended up washing for them last night) and two very traumatized cats.

Via twitter: If you tease my cat, yes, she's going to hiss at you. And possibly take a swipe at you. And I'm going to feel bad - but only for the cat.

And since I'm still working on this whole positive mindset idea, I'm going to take the advice of a very wise man rabbit. "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all" - it's a lofty goal indeed.

P.S. I was impressed with Tonya. Not only did she not hide the moment they arrived, she put up with a lot of torment without eating any faces. And I wouldn't have blamed or reprimanded her for taking a chunk or two out of someone. In fact, she might've earned a tuna treat for it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Poor Planning

Some background on the voices in my head: (Feel free to skip ahead if you already know me well.)

One of my most effective tools for decreasing my anxiety involves lists. Copious amounts of lists. I use Google tasks and the lists sync to my new phone beautifully, which allows me to take my list-neurosis to a whole new level. I'm currently keeping 17 lists (one for each day of the week, a weekly list of cleaning tasks, a monthly cleaning list, my rx meds, a shopping list, house projects, blog ideas...).

So yes, I'm a bit of a planner. I don't need a minute by minute agenda but I worry much less when I can look at the next week and figure out what day I need to take care of certain things. This works great in reducing my anxiety, though it does mean it throws me for a bit of a loop when something unexpected comes up. But, who am I kidding - surprises ALWAYS bring on a certain amount of anxiety for me. At least this way I'm organized.

The issue:

All of which is the background necessary to understand why my brother-in-law causes me so much stress. He is NOT a planner. Our trip "home" in May involved much pulling of teeth in order to get him to commit to a weekend he would be available so we could book the trip. And then nailing down a time to get together?!?! It would be easier to negotiate world peace.

But that was then, and this is now. I noticed on his Facebook status last Saturday that BIL and his family had driven 15 hours from their home, passing within 30 miles of us, to spend 4th of July with his wife's family in a somewhat beachier city south of my undisclosed location. At first, I was a bit miffed on behalf of my husband that they weren't stopping to see us. And then I realized - it would be SO like my BIL to decide he was stopping in on the way back with very little advance notice.

Ding ding ding!!! Sure enough, on Monday night BIL sent Joe a text that he wanted to stop in to see us later this week before arriving back in NY on Saturday. When would we be available? Let's see - no advance notice, the week of a holiday. Joe's team of six at work is down to three because half the team is on vacation. So not only can he not take unannounced time off but he's working even more than usual (if that's possible) to cover for everyone else being out.

There was much back and forth. The only time Joe could really be available was either for dinners or on Friday afternoon (his company typically closes shop during the summer at noon, which just means they turn off the air conditioning so you have to go home to work). Friday was too late in the week for them so BIL committed to Wednesday night. Or Thursday night. One of those. Probably Thursday. Unless they decide to leave earlier.

And that's where we're at now. They may be here tonight. Or tomorrow night. They may or may not stay over. It's possible he may or may not have brought his two poorly-behaved black labs with him. No, he won't likely give us the courtesy of letting us know before he gets on the road. I wouldn't be surprised at all to hear from him at 5:30 tonight asking what exit to take because he's just hit our city limits and can't remember.

Yay, family. Yay free spirits. Yay aimless wanderers.

Screw that. Yay for lists! Yay for common courtesy! Yay for advance notice!

I'll be the frantic girl trying to get the house completely ready in case they do show up tonight. On the plus side, my house will be clean and I should be able to spend the next couple of days doing less work and more enjoyable things.

Like optimizing my lists.

P.S. I've been working hard at this whole "positive attitude" thing lately. And it's going well. But I think I still need to be able to cut loose in my blog. Otherwise, my head may explode. It's a proven scientific fact.

P.S. I almost failed the last science class I took. True story.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

No Sleep For the Wicked

There's one night every year that I'm guaranteed not to sleep. It started in 2002 when we bought our home and now it's an annual thing, this not sleeping. That night is July 4th.

When I say "no sleep for the wicked", I really mean "no sleep for the anxious." It's much too hard to sleep when I'm worried about the idiot neighbors blowing up fireworks and setting the neighborhood on fire (hello, drought conditions). It's also not restful to think about my idiot friends blowing their fingers off with fireworks. Not to mention the lack of comfort I find in thinking about my idiot cats peeing themselves every time something bangs or sizzles in the night sky.

Long gone are the magical days of childhood when Daddy launched fireworks off the tailgate of his baby blue Ford pickup. I'm light years away from the "oohs" and "ahhs" of the light shows in the sky. Now when I see and hear fireworks, I'm think of the horror stories of missing appendages, house fires, and a whole lot of tax-payer dollars that could be going to something more practical.

Yes, I'm that old woman girl. But I really don't ask for much - just the courtesy of not lighting my home on fire.

Also - GET OFF MY LAWN!!!

P.S. I took things to an entirely new level last night. Not only was I anxious but I managed to have heart palpitations and generally freak out. Usually I just feel uneasy. This time I felt sick. All of the professional fireworks were rescheduled for tonight (those don't bother me nearly as much as the craziness going on feet from my house) and I'm hoping all of the amateur shows got it out of their system last night.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Six Word Saturday

I'm back - prepare for world domination



Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. I love seeing what everyone does with their entries.

Each week (probably on Sunday or Monday), I use random.org to select a bunch of entries to visit.  Or I visit everyone. Or even numbered entries. Or odd numbered entries. Or multiples of three. Depends on what's going on that week.  In addition, please visit the person ahead of you on the list (or visit everyone if you like!). That way everyone receives at least one visit!

If you play along in your blog, please add a link to the Mr. Linky. I appreciate a link back (shiny code below if you like!). Otherwise, you're welcome to leave your six words in this post as a comment.

Please be sure to link either to your main page or (preferably) directly to the 6WS post. Links to blogs that do not contain a 6WS entry will be removed (sorry, just the button in the sidebar doesn't count as participating).



Friday, July 01, 2011

Where's Cate?

I'm here, I'm here! But I've been there. And over there. And just a bit of everywhere.

I mean all of this in terms of my mental state as opposed to physical state (though I did spend last weekend in Baltimore, which is in Maryland state). The good news is that opposed to the funk that took hold a month or so ago, I'm here and there and everywhere in a more positive manner.

It would be a lie to say I'm 100% happy happy joy joy. I'm not quite sure that's something I'll ever attain, but it's good to have goals. I'm still feeling a bit disjointed and directionless. Joe's work situation is still what it is, which means I continue in this weird limbo. My contract with ex-work ended last week so now I'm not bringing in regular cash and feeling a bit of pressure about that.

But even with all of that, I'm starting to feel a bit inspired again. I've been feeding off the creative energy of people around me. My Twitter friends are constantly posting their photography, paintings, and other projects. Our #jhbc has resulted in a great clan for discussing not only reading but also writing. I'm completely immersed in Pinterest and collecting so many amazing beautiful ideas there. The trip to Baltimore last weekend involved a family "reunion" with family I've never met on Joe's side (it's a bit complicated) and they are a gifted, eclectic, talented and diverse group of artists, musicians and people doing their own thing, often a bit off the beaten path.

They say like attracts like and that we should surround ourselves with people and things that we aspire to be/do. I feel like I've had some serious exposure to great energy lately. I've been crafting, painting, taking online drawing lessons, signing up for a sewing machine class and also signing up for two online writing courses to prepare me for a book idea (!!!) that's been starting to solidify in my mind.

Unfortunately, I'm still struggling to find my way back to blogging. I realize this isn't by any means a great post but I really felt inclined to post something today. And this is what's on my mind, so there ya go. A bit of an update to ease back in, hopefully. Nicely timed because today begins a new month.

Hoping some of you are still out there - I've been missing you guys!